Dollhouses come in all sorts of architectural styles but there are some classic architectural designs that continue to be popular with dollhouse lovers. Most dollhouses are created in one of eleven major designs including Colonial, Saltbox, Cape Code, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Mansard, Queen Anne and Carpenter Gothic. So that you can sound knowledgeable about your next or current dollhouse here is a guide to the typical architectural details present in these eleven house designs.
Colonial style dollhouses are based on an architectural design from the late 1600’s through approximately 1760. Colonial homes usually possess a central fireplace and chimney, simply designed windows with characteristic small panes in a typical design of 12 over 12. Down South, Colonial homes were often made of brick but followed the same architectural lines of their neighbors in the east.
Saltbox homes have a lean to like angle back roof. This design was very popular in colonial times. The Cape Cod style house dates to approximately 1710 and traditionally has a 1 ½ story construction with a steeply pitched roof. There are no dormers with a cape house.
The Georgian style house can be made of brick or wood and is classically symmetrical with the front door in the center of the house with or without a transom. Later Georgian homes added more classical dentils, dormers, columns, fanlights and palladium windows located on the second floor.
Federal type homes are characterized by symmetry but the classical elements of Georgian homes have been tempered down. Front doors often have columns on both sides and a flat top section known as an entablature. Hipped roofs and dormers are common to this style. Many dollhouses are built in the Federal style.
In Greek Revival homes popular in the early 1800’s you will likely find columns on the sides of the homes in an effort to make a home look like a Greek temple though the architectural lines of the houses are simpler than Georgian homes. Gothic Revival homes which continued to be fashionable until the late 1800’s saw the emergence of pointed gables, finials, tall windows, diamond window panes and medieval motifs.
Italianate home design is a design from the late 1800’s that features Italian villa design with a flat or pitched roof, eaves that extend from the house, porches with pillars, arches, and even towers or a cupola. This style is rarely seen in dollhouse design but probably would be wonderful as a dollhouse.
The last three architectural home designs are very popular for use with dollhouses. This includes the Mansard, the Queen Anne, and the Carpenter Gothic which were all the rage from the mid to late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The Mansard is known for the distinctive roof which bears the designs name which provided extra living space on the top floor. Mansard roofs were also accompanied by dormer windows. These homes featured dormer windows and pediments and other ornamental decorations. The Queen Anne home is characterized by asymmetrical shapes and design. You will find gables, oriel windows, turrets, fluted chimneys, and front porches all done with a delicate hand. The Carpenter Gothic is known for its gingerbread ornamentation, gable peaks, front porches, aprons, wood cutouts and appliqués.
Of course, as with real homes, dollhouses can be an amalgam of styles and designs and often are. Other popular dollhouse designs not covered here are of European origin including the English cottage style, chalets, and castles.